“The Devil’s cleverest wile is to make men believe that he does not exist.”
Charles Baudelaire — “Le Joueur Généreux” (Le Figaro –1864)
March 25 2020 — When it comes to the Lockerbie Affair, nothing is ever what it seems. The next step was always difficult — sometimes nearly impossible — to predict. After 30 years of an incredible saga, we are now finally entering the endgame. This time, I will take the risk to make a prediction. The final act is going to be a piece of pure evilness. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY
RELATED POST: Lockerbie — SCCRC Refers Case Back to Court
In his book [The Lockerbie Bomber (2016)], former Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill wrote that the “clothes in the suitcase that carried the bomb were acquired in Malta, though not by Megrahi…”
For the first time ever, a top official admitted that Megrahi was not the person who bought the infamous clothes in Malta.
Question: does it matter to the case? Answer: It seems to depend on who you ask… First, let me recall the facts. Second, let us hear two extreme opinions. And finally, I will remind you the conclusion of the SCCRC on this specific issue.
The facts about the Mysterious Purchaser
Wrong date — On November 18, 1991, the US Dept. of State issued a “fact sheet” regarding the indictment of Libyan citizens Megrahi and Fimah for their alleged role in the bombing of Pan Am 103 on December 21, 1988.
The sheet reads: In February 1991, Megrahi was described “resembling the Libyan who purchased the clothing items… most likely on December 7, 1988.”
Regarding the day of the purchase, Tony Gauci remembered that his brother Paul had gone home earlier to watch an evening football game (Rome vs. Dresden), that the man came just before closing time, around 7 p.m., and that there was some very light raining. (The man returned to the shop to buy an umbrella.)
The game allows for only two dates: November 23 or December 7, 1988.
The game Rome-Dresden on December 7 was played at 1 p.m., not in the evening. As a result, Paul Gauci thought that the purchases had occurred on November 23, 1988. [There is no evidence Megrahi was in Malta on that day.]
In March 2009, Mark Vella, the managing director of METEO MALTA, told me that their records “unambiguously indicate” that it did not rain in Sliema on December 7, 1988. Vella added that it was dripping during the evening of November 23, 1988.
A Dubious Identification — On Feb. 15, 1991, Gauci was shown some photographs and failed to identify Megrahi.
When asked to concentrate on his picture – a leading procedure to say the least — Gauci correctly pointed out that the man on the picture was in his 30s while maintaining that the man who had bought the clothing items was very much older.
Previously, on Sept. 13, 1989, during a photofit session, Gauci stated that the buyer was about 50 years old. Born on April 1, 1952, Megrahi was 36 in late 1988. The next day, Gauci again told Detective Chief Inspector Bell that Megrahi was too young to be the man who bought the clothing.
“If the man in the photograph was older by about 20 years, he would look like the man who bought the clothing,” Gauci told DCI Bell.
Law Professor Robert Black wrote:
“This is huge. If the trial court hadn’t concluded that Megrahi bought the clothes in Gauci’s shop, he couldn’t have been convicted. This finding was absolutely crucial to the verdict.
So Kenny is saying that the court was wrong on a matter absolutely essential to its verdict.”
Dick Marquise — chief of the FBI’s Lockerbie task force from 1988 to 1992 — still claims that Megrahi was rightly convicted.
“The conviction was not just based on identification evidence. It is the preponderance of the evidence that led to the conviction.”
After conducting a four-year review of the case, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) reported on 28 June 2007 that there may have been a miscarriage of justice in Megrahi’s case.
The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission concluded:
“There is no reasonable basis in the trial court’s judgment for its conclusion that the purchase of the items [clothes that were found in the wreckage of the plane] from Mary’s House [in Malta] took place on 7 December 1988.”
The SCCRC also concluded that:
“Evidence which cast doubt on Gauci’s identification of Megrahi had not been made available to the defence, a breach of rules designed to ensure a fair trial. (…) four days before he identified Megrahi, Gauci had seen a photograph of him in a magazine article about the bombing.”
So, Megrahi is clearly NOT the purchaser, but does it matter to the case?
To answer this question, the Commission considered whether, leaving aside the evidence as to the date of purchase, there exists an alternative means by which a verdict of guilty could reasonably have been returned, based on the evidence not rejected by the court. [SCCRC 2007 — 21.100]
“Given the importance of the date of purchase to the identification of the applicant as the purchaser, and the importance of that identification to his conviction, it seems to the Commission that this is a matter more appropriately determined by the High Court in the event that it arises at appeal.
It is sufficient to say that in the Commission’s view any finding that a reasonable court could not have inferred that the applicant was the purchaser would render the remaining evidence against him insufficient to convict.”
Thus, the Commission concluded that the verdict in the case is — at least arguably — one which no reasonable court, properly directed, could have returned. [21.101]
On March 11 2020, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission [SCCRC] decided to refer the Lockerbie case back to the High Court of Justiciary for determination.
“Because the court’s specific conclusion that he was the purchaser was integral to the court’s ultimate conclusion that he was guilty of the murders libelled, the Commission believes that, notwithstanding that the remaining chapters of evidence pointed to the involvement of operators of the Libyan state in the execution of the crime, a miscarriage of justice may have occurred because no reasonable trial court, relying on the evidence led at trial, could have held the case against Mr Megrahi was proved beyond reasonable doubt.”
Thirteen years later, the SCCRC reached the same conclusion based on the same analysis of the very same irrefutable facts: date of the purchase and identity of the purchaser.
Question: does it matter to the case?
So, we can finally address the question. Does it matter that Megrahi was, or not, the purchaser of the clothes in Malta?
According to the SCCRC two reports (2007 & 2020), the identity of the purchaser is a critical part of the guilty verdict.
So Marquise is wrong and Black is right. If the judges had not concluded that Megrahi bought the clothes in Gauci’s shop, he could not have been convicted.
However… Pay attention to the words: “relying on the evidence led at trial”.
It seems that the SCCRC is already paving the way for the Crown to reveal new evidence against Megrahi that could not have been disclosed 20 years ago.
Did you ever wonder who decided to leak the CIA Minerva files last month? And why?
Chronicle of an Injustice Foretold — The Alex Salmond Show
On November 29 2017, following an interview with the former justice secretary on his chat show on the Kremlin-backed TV channel RT, Alex Salmond [First Minister of Scotland from 2007 to 2014] said:
“Is it possible for someone to be guilty, yet wrongly convicted? Yes it is.
“Kenny MacAskill was correct, the forensic evidence complied by the Scottish authorities and the FBI clearly identified Libyan involvement and Malta as the place where the bomb was planted.
Mr Megrahi was a high ranking Libyan intelligence official on the scene at the time.
This supports the charge that he, acting with others, was part of the Lockerbie conspiracy.
However, his conviction was not just based on the strength of that evidence but on identification evidence which is, to say the least, open to question.
Back in 2009 Kenny MacAskill was aware of this, as was I as Scotland’s First Minister.”
A Diabolical Endgame
As Chomsky has long observed: “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum….”
Having excluding the evidence regarding PT/35(b), the SCCRC has allowed a very limited appeal of the Lockerbie Case.
And their message is very clear: “Megrahi may or may not be the purchaser of the clothes, but Libya is responsible for Lockerbie; End of the story.”
And even within the limited framework defined by the SCCRC, I expect this pseudo-appeal to be no more than a diabolic trap. Please, read carefully:
“The Commission, as part of the current review, obtained new information which, if believed, points at Libya, and Mr Megrahi as an operative in 1988 for that state, as being the culprits in the bombing of PA 103.
The Commission considered, however, that the foregoing material did not entitle the Commission to establish a compelling and unanswerable case indicating that Mr Megrahi is guilty.
As matters presently stand, the Commission was unable either to assess the nature or the circumstances under which this information was obtained or to form any conclusion about the credibility or reliability of the information.
It may be that, if such matters are able to be properly considered in the future in a court of law, appropriate conclusions could be drawn about this new information.”
Unless Megrahi’s lawyer manages to convince the court that the evidence regarding PT/35(b) must be allowed at the trial, this new appeal will not bring closure on Lockerbie.
However, I do not expect this to happen and I am afraid that the future has been written long ago.
Alex Salmond Show — Lockerbie (Pan Am 103 — December 21 1988)
St. Andrew’s Day Special (Nov 30 2017) — Salmond interviews former Justice Secretary of Scotland Kenny MacAskill.
Quote — “N’oubliez jamais, quand vous entendrez vanter le progrès des lumières,
que la plus belle des ruses du Diable est de vous persuader qu’il n’existe pas!”
Salmond uses RT show to question Lockerbie conviction — EXPRESS.CO.UK
Memory, 2013 — Vol. 21 No. 5, 584-590
Maltese man who determined Lockerbie bombing trial dies— Times of Malta
Lockerbie — Diabolical Endgame — Part II : Chronicle of an Injustice Foretold